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E00135: The History of the Albanians, written in Armenian, recounts the desire of king Vachagan III to discover the relics of Katholikos *Grigoris (katholikos and martyr of Caucasian Albania, S00062), founder of the Albanian church. Written probably in Caucasian Albania, possibly in the 6th c. or 7th c.

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posted on 01.11.2014, 00:00 by naleksidze
History of the Albanians, Book 1, Chapter 20

Յոյժ ցանկալի տենչանս ունէր բարեպաշտ Վաչական արքայն Աղուանից առ գիւտ նշխարաց սրբոյ մանկանն Գրիգորիսի. քանզի տեղեկացեալ էր ՛ի հնագրացն պատմութենէ, եթէ ՛ի Վատնեայ դաշտին կատարեցաւ երանելին Գրիգորիս, եւ բարձեալ աշակերտաց ոմանց՝ բերին  յԱմարաս գիւղն եւ եդին յեկեղեցւոջն, յորում հիմնարկեալ էր մեծին Գրիգորի՝ ոչ նշան ինչ արարեալ ՛ի տեղւոջն, երկուցեալ յայլուրեք բառնալոյ զնշխարս երանելւոյն, կամ թէ յերկիւղէ հինին ճեպելոյ, եւ ՛ի յոլովութենէ ամաց բազմանալոյ ՛ի մոռացումն ընկեցեալ լինէր տեղին նշխարաց սրբոցն։ Խորհուրդ կալեալ թագաւորին ընդ իւրոյ դրան երիցուն, խորհել պատճառս ինչ, որով կարասցէ գտանել զցանկալին յոյժ բարի անձինն։ Եւ կոչեցեալ զվանացերէց գեղջն՝ հարցանէր, եթէ նշան ինչ ուրեք է՞ առ եկեղեցեաւն ՛ի գերեզմանին վերայ՝ թէ ոչ. եւ նա ասէ՝ "Բազում գերեզմանք են արդ շուրջ զեկեղեցեաւն, վասն զի ՛ի հինախաղաց ժամանակէն ՛ի մեծագոյն հիմնարկութենէ եկեղեցւոյն ոչ ոք կարաց շինել, զոր մեծին Գրիգորի հիմնարկեալ էր"։ Եւ
ասէ թագաւորն՝ թէ "Զհող տեղւոյն ՛ի բաց հրամայեմ պեղել, գուցէ ՛ի բազմութենէ գերեզմանաց ոչ կարեմք կալ ՛ի վերայ գերեզմանի երանելւոյն, այլ ապաստան պարտ է լինել ՛ի պահս եւ յաղօթս, եւ բազում աղաչանօք խնդրել յամենողորմէն Աստուծոյ, յիշեցեալ զտէրունեան զբանն՝ զոր ասէ, զբարի հայցումն վաղվաղակի առնուլ յառատատուրն Աստուծոյ"։

'Vačagan, the pious king of the Aghuans [Albanians], greatly longed to uncover the relics of the lad Saint Grigoris since he had been informed from the events in history that the venerable Grigoris had been martyred in the Vatnean plain by the shore of the great sea, and that some of his students had brought [his body] and placed it in the church which the great Gregory [the Illuminator] had built in the village of Amaras. There was no marking on that spot either because they feared that someone might take the relics of the venerable Saint, or from fear of bandits or because the exact location had been forgotten after the passage of so much time.

The king consulted with his court priests about how to discover the remains of such a desirable and goodly figure. Summoning the abbot of the village he asked whether or not there were any indications [of where the grave might be located] in the church cemetery. [The abbot] replied that there were now many graves in the vicinity of the church and that since the period of the [Iranian] raids and the main foundation of the church, no one had been able to build upon that which the great Gregory had founded. The king proclaimed: "I command that the ground be excavated so that perhaps in the midst of so many graves we shall come upon the grave of the most holy venerable one. We must now place our trust in fasting and prayers and many pleas to All-merciful God, remembering the word of the Lord that a good request is quickly accepted by our generous God."'

Text: Arakelyan 1983. Translation: Bedrosian 2004, adapted.

History

Evidence ID

E00135

Saint Name

Grigoris (Katholikos and Martyr in Caucasian Albania, ob. early 4th century) : S00062

Saint Name in Source

Գրիգորիս

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Armenian

Evidence not before

600

Evidence not after

1000

Activity not before

480

Activity not after

510

Place of Evidence - Region

Albania in Caucasia Armenia

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Urekan Ուռեկան Urekan Hadamakert Հադամակերտ Hadamakert Başkale

Major author/Major anonymous work

History of the Albanians

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

Source

The History of the Albanians is one of the most controversial texts of the medieval Armenian corpus. It is relatively obvious that the text known today as the History of Albanians is a compilation, sometimes a rather crude one, of various narrative sources, historical documents, or oral narratives, the latest of which dates as late as the 11th century. The authorship is usually attributed to a certain Movsēs Dasxuranc'i, who is most probably one of the 10th century compilers or editors of the corpus. There exists yet another Movsēs (Kałankatwac'i) to whom the History is also attributed, although here again we are dealing with a continuator or a compiler. It is equally unclear whether these two Movsēses are one and the same persons or not. Therefore, despite the traditional attribution to a Movsēs, we refer to the text by its title only. In spite of all these uncertainties, the information provided by the History of the Albanians is invaluable in many ways. First of all it is the only history that specifically treats Caucasian Albania, secondly, it constructs the history of Albania specifically around its saints and their cult, presenting the Christian history of the Kingdom in line with the established Armenian tradition, which also emphasises its unique character and cultural autonomy. The History provides great details on cultic practices, perhaps more than we have from any other contemporaneous Caucasian texts. In our database only the first book of the History is considered, as it is the part of the narrative that can be dated to the late antique period with the highest degree of confidence. The most important section of the Book I is perhaps the life and deeds of the Albanian King Vač'agan III (r. 487-510). J.P. Mahé and K. Zuckerman distinguish this component from the rest of Book I and date it to the 6th century. The rest must be a 7th century composition. The 6th century chronicler must have recounted these events soon after the death of King Vač'agan in the early 6th century (Mahé 2009, 114-115). Mahé suggests that Vač'agan symbolizes a certain unity of two parts of Albania, the north, which was predominantly Albanophone, and the south, where Armenian was used as an official language. The author also wishes to highlight the close cultural ties between Armenia and Albania. Vač'agan's principle challenge was to eliminate the continuous spread of paganism in Albania. Apart from strict measures taken against 'sorcerers' and pagans, Vač'agan instituted schools to re-educate the children of pagans. Vač'agan's particular concern with the cult of the relics is also a part of his anti-pagan project. Thus, the entire first part of Book I is a long quest for the relics of the saints, narrated with striking details.

Discussion

This short chapter describes another stage towards the discovery of the relics of Patriarch Grigoris. This immediately follows the events in Cri, where the relics of Zacharia and Pantaleon had been miraculously discovered. It is essential that the relics that had been previously acquired and translated to Albania by Grigoris help the king discover the relics of the revered Patriarch. The chapter once again stresses how much has been forgotten and fallen into oblivion due to persistent Persian raids and how willing King Vačagan was to restore the cultural memory of the Albanian people through the discovery of the relics of the founder of the Albanian Church.

Bibliography

Critical edition: Arakelyan, V. (ed.), Մովսէս Կաղանկատւացի, Պատմութիւն Աղուանից Աշխարհի (Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1983). Translations: Bedrosian, R., Movses Daskhurants'i's History of the Aghuans (Long Branch, New Jersey: Sources of the Armenian tradition, 2010). Dowsett, C.J.F., The History of the Caucasian Albanians by Movsēs Dasxuranc'i (London: Oxford University Press, 1961). Smbatyan, S.V., Мовсэс Каланкатуаци, История страны Алуанк [Movsēs Kalankatuac'i, History of the Land of Albania] (Yerevan, 1984). Studies: Bais, M., Albania Caucasica: Ethnos, Storia, territorio attraverso le fonti greche, latine e armene (Milan: Mimesis, 2001). Hewsen, R.H., "On the Chronology of Movsēs Dasxuranc'i", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 27:1 (1964), 151-153. Mahé, J.-P., "Vac'agan III le Pieux et le Culte des Reliques", Révue des Etudes Armeniennes 35 (2013), 113-129. Yuzbachian, K.N., “Einige Bemerkungen über die Entwicklung der nationalen Bewusstseinsbildung im kaukasischen Albanien", in: W. Seibt (ed.), Die Christianisierung des Kaukasus (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2002), 181-189. Zuckerman, C., "The Khazars and Byzantium. The First Encounter", in P.B. Golden, H. Ben Shamai, A. Róna-Tas (eds.), The World of the Khazars: New Perspectives. Selected Papers from the Jerusalem 1999 International Khazar Colloquium (Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section 8: Uralic and central Asian Studies, 17; Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2007), 399-432.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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